Reap What You Sow: If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson
IF YOU PLANT A TOMATO SEED,
A CARROT SEED, AND A CABBAGE SEED
WITH LOVE AND CARE
TOMATO, CARROT, AND CABBAGE PLANTS WILL GROW.
Rabbit and Mouse join forces to plant a garden, guarding their plot as the rain and sun coax seedlings out of the ground to leaf out in the sun. Soon the plants bear fruit, and the two proud gardeners dance a jig of joy.
But all unnoticed, the two farmers' efforts have been watched from above, and soon that plague of gardeners, a big black crow, swoops down to help himself to the bounty, followed by a blue jay, a cardinal, a dove, and a finch.
It's a standoff, as the rodents shout that the fruits of their labor should be theirs and the crow and his cronies scream that they are there to claim a share. A battle royale follows, and soon the neat garden is in shambles, a mess of smashed cherry tomatoes and splintered stalks and leaves.
This is NOT working.
IF YOU PLANT A SEED OF SELFISHNESS
IN TIME IT WILL GROW...
Then Mouse picks up one cherry tomato and hesitantly proffers it as a peace offering, With a truce in place, Rabbit and Mouse and their new feathered friends and their friends share what's left of the garden.
And these are friends with benefits. As gardeners know, birds have their own way of planting seeds, and to the delight of all, a new garden soon sprouts, this one from the many varied seeds that the birds bring--sweet melons, corn, rhubarb, and sunflowers as well--and there is a bountiful crop to feed all comers. a duck and a chicken, a squirrel and a raccoon.
THE FRUITS OF KINDNESS
ARE VERY, VERY SWEET.
Kadir Nelson's latest, If You Plant a Seed (Balzer + Bray Books, 2015) illustrates the mastery of the multiple award-winning Nelson in the art of the picture book. His spare text is a simple parable, every word just right, and his artwork is gorgeous, each bit of fur and feather gleaming with light and life. The humor in the body language of his animals, in their yelling contest and their free-for-all food fight, serves as a counterweight to the sweetness of the final sharing of their mutual harvest. There is a powerful premise at work here, set off by illustrations, at once realistic and interpretive, that show why Nelson has earned Caldecott and Coretta Scott King awards aplenty is his illustrious illustrative career. "A skillfully crafted story about the literal and allegorical fruits of the seeds we plant," points out Publishers Weekly.